When I walked into the Sigma Nu frat house for the first time in January, I had no idea that it was the home of juniors and seniors of the Yale men’s ice hockey team. Though, from the party’s turnout, I should not have been surprised. The foyer was filled with people already buzzing about the season’s successes thus far.
Still, the team members didn’t let it go to their heads. Two months further into the season, nothing has changed. On the eve of the team’s NCAA Tournament opener against Vermont tonight, the guys were cool and collected.
“It feels good to have done this well,” right winger Sean Backman ’10 told me. “You get a little more recognition from people you’d never talk to.”
But goalie Alec Richards ’09 added, “Having so much support has not been an ego boost or anything like that,” he said.
When I wrote a preview for the hockey team at the beginning of the season in November, I could tell that these players have something special. It was clear that they didn’t consider themselves individual players and that their coherent group dynamic would allow them to succeed.
“I think that over the course of the year, the nice thing about all living in the house together is that everyone can feel welcome and just hang out,” Richards said.
Center Mark Arcobello ’10 agreed the close bonds among all members of the team has been refreshing on and off the ice. Spending so much time together — from taking the same classes to eating meals together to going to the same parties — has been invaluable for building up the team dynamic, he said.
“It’s not segregated by class,” Arcobello said. “And when you’re winning, the team morale is always higher so we have a lot of drive. We’re winning and we’re having fun doing it too.”
The men may have extraordinary skills in the rink, but in terms of their lifestyle, the players made it clear they live just like any other Yale students.
“We live in a frat house so you can imagine what it looks like,” Arcobello laughed.
But perhaps unlike other Yalies, the men living at 37 High St. have gone through this year with relatively little drama.
We don’t really cook at the house so we don’t have to worry about not doing the dishes. It’s the perfect arrangement,” Richards said.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, the easy-going team has done exactly what it sought out to in the beginning of the season — advance as far as it could and win as many games as possible.
In November, I asked Danny Otto ’12 how he thought the season would turn out.
“I think we’ll surprise a lot of teams with our talent,” he had said.
Man, was he right.